By Michael Moriarty
I’ve been worshipping Lady Gaga for… YES! WORSHIPPING HER!... for some time now.
A few years ago, while hunting for performances of music that actually formed me, made me, for better or for worse, who and what I am, I saw one of my all-time favorites on the Youtube listings: Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life; performed by a famous name whose artistry I knew nothing about: Lady Gaga.
There are world renowned divas such as Maria Callas.
Voices that are not really human.
In the case of Maria Callas? A Greek-American Goddess!
Now the only singer who, to my mind, carries a soul and voice at least the size of Maria Callas’ ?! Lady Gaga!
What does she have that Maria Callas might not have had? A composer’s understanding and the genius of one of America’s most gifted dramatists.
Lady Gaga sings with the power of both Maria Callas and Ethel Merman combined while, at the same time, composing, within each song, a mini-drama of quintessentially American relevance.
You might say she’s The Stephen Sondheim of Sopranos.
This love song of mine is one of thousands she has already received and most certainly will be receiving to Eternity.
The photo above?!
There was Marilyn Monroe… but… well… after Lady Gaga… who is Marilyn Monroe?
Lady Gaga and Maria Callas were both born in New York.
I lived for 20 extraordinary years in Manhattan. On 58th St., just south of Central Park. No one makes me miss Manhattan more profoundly than Lady Gaga.
Here was my first glimpse of The World’s Greatest Diva.
“Oh, my God!” I cried.
“Stop doing this to me, lady!!!!”
She was a lady I really knew nothing about… but with this introduction?!?!
Since that time, at the mere mention of her name, I have bowed, assumed a prayerful posture, shook my head in major shows of disbelief at what I had experienced and found that my repeated glimpses of that single performance only deepened my mad certainty that… well… yes… A Goddess Walks The Earth!
Giving us Boite intimacy with a Yankee Stadium voice.
She doesn’t merely command attention. It’s as if the entire human race were dangling from a string of pearls hanging from her wrist. Time passes.
I return to her later version of Lush Life.
By now she is not only the dramatist who writes small plays with every song, she’s choreographed her walking and drinking dance about the stage and around the graceful support of her pianist, who looks a lot like Mike Renzi.
It’s the play, “Tony, I’m A Mess”!
Her wardrobe for this?!
How can one describe the combination she put together for this play, “Tony, I’m A Mess”?!
You are seeing it now on your computer screen if you’ve any love for the theater.
And “The Do”?! Her hair? It’s yours to describe.
Her costume is simultaneously A Mess and A Glorious Invitation.
The only fantasies this version of Lady Gaga might inspire in you but that The Lady Herself would reject are the boring ones.
There’s obviously nothing in the theater and the entire history of entertainment that Lady Gaga wasn’t born already knowing.
Never in a rush about anything, what keeps us riveted to her presence is The Truth!
Yes, The Pure Transparency that comes pouring out of her.
The word “cock-tails”, however, is accented with a particularly “sophisticated” ring to it.
Still moving as she sings, we reach a powerfully delivered confession of “Madness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I used to drink.
It was in the family blood.
All of us alcoholics.
There is, despite the deliberately calculated appearance, nothing self-indulgent about an artist who knows the drinker’s nightmare, from top to bottom, and delivers her tale with such precision.
In a bit, she interrupts her performance to pay more tributes to Tony Bennett.
None of my experiences with Tony Bennett are worth retelling… but then again I never had the performing genius, the limitless and God-like power of Lady Gaga.
It seems Tony Bennett got there before any of us did!
Her turning her back on us is not just another thank-you to Tony Bennett but a most secretive tribute and thank you to every member of her orchestra. The not-so-secret smiles coming from her drummer and guitarist are more than heartfelt. Rarely do musicians have the opportunity to share the stage with a talent that huge.
To perform behind Sinatra? Perhaps.
Her angry delivery of, “I’ll forget you! I will!!”
Yeah, right, Lady.
Sure ya will.
But we are just leading up to the deepest confession on the one syllable word: “DIVE”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She’s crouched on the floor by now!
The whole, classic and supreme achievement, the universal objective of all Art: Truth and Beauty, Beauty and Truth!
It took the entire introduction to this explosion out of a one syllable word… DIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.... to hand our complete trust into her, yes, sacredly gifted blessedness!
Yes, we’re talking religion now.
That’s what the theater was in its first divine achievements within Ancient Greece.
Then, we went to not be just entertained but to worship.
Amidst that worship?!
The Lady pays her thanks, in profoundly New York fashion, to the Greek God of the Theater, Dionysus, the Ancient God of Wine
“The wine is good, isn’t it?”
Without it I doubt if she’d have discovered the secrets she shares with us… and, all of us, she as well as we, are all that much poorer.
Without a battle with wine, that much frailer.
That much less in love with Life and Lady Gaga.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at email@example.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.